April 30, 2012
Ticats leaving no stone unturned
By Frank Zicarelli, QMI AGENCY
One minute they’re huddling up in the Hammer to lay a foundation, next minute they’re off in the Bayou, only to find themselves trying to unearth that football jewel in California.
Whatever team the Ticats ultimately field, no one can knock Hamilton for failing to exhaust every option at their disposal.
“If there’s a better athlete than the one we have, we’ll have to decide on it,’’ head coach George Cortez said on Monday as the daily grind to get ready for Thursday’s CFL draft and upcoming training camp continues in earnest.
Cortez is no stranger to the gridiron block, having worked on both sides of the border on the offensive side of football, a rookie head coach who wants to play fast and practise fast.
When the Ticats recently held a three-day mini-camp at Ivor Wynne Stadium, Cortez began to lay a foundation he hopes will become a complete product once the regular season rolls around on Canada Day weekend.
With the Ticats spending big bucks to lure free-agent slotback Andy Fantuz, whom Cortez worked with in Regina, with the team trading for quarterback Henry Burris, and with the team set to play its entire season on the road next season as Ivor Wynne gets torn down and reborn, there will be plenty of pressure to do well this season.
Cortez is leaving no stone unturned.
It’s the way Cortez has conducted himself from the first day the Ticats introduced Cortez, who in recent years spent time with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills as quarterbacks coach.
“You’re always looking to get better, but it goes without saying,’’ said Cortez.
A week ago, the Ticats held a free-agent camp in Louisiana.
This weekend, something similar has been arranged in California.
Regardless of geography, the Ticats are hoping to bolster a roster that went through its predictable turnover once last season was completed.
A lot of what Cortez wants to do was apparent two weeks ago when veterans gathered for the first time in Hamilton.
“I don’t see any problems in practising fast,’’ Cortez said of a theme he established at mini-camp. “I’d be more concerned if we were too slow than too fast.”
With the Ticats playing plenty of press man coverage, an aggressive form of defence that doesn’t allow for easy releases by receivers, the defence got the upper hand on most drills.
“Last time I checked, Ticats defence was not on our schedule,’’ mused Cortez. “I thought what we needed to do, we did.
“We were trying to install a new offence.”
And going on the offensive is the exact mode the Ticats have embraced as the off-season slowly comes to its end, the beginning of training camp just around the corner.